Ready for Winter – Oct 20

Last pass through the hives before we get into Winter.  I had feeders on all four hives up through October 7th.  Each hive seems to have a solid medium of honey on the top box.  The Misty nuc is heavy on top.  All of the hives are loaded with bees.  Pretty much solid from side to side and front to back.

I bought a five pound box of fondant just to see how setting it up in the hives works for early next year when I ay have to feed them.  This worked great on the Bees Rules hive and the Utah hive where I put my home built vivaldi boards (they have a 3/8 inch spacing on the bottom).  It also worked out well on the Tardis hive which has a feeding shim in place for pollen patties (works great for the fondant as well).  Unfortunately, trying to fit the fondant between the top bard and the inner cover on the Misty nuc there was not enough room.  Into the garage to make a nuc sized feeding shim. A couple of scraps of 3/4 pine, a little work on the table saw, some glue and a couple of staples solved that problem.  I’m glad I tried it out before February. 

I also loaded up the top of my vivaldi boxes by filling a burlap bag with pine shavings and scrunching the full bag into the box.  I installed moust excluders on the entrance reducers of the Bees Riles and Tardis hive.  As the day warmed up the bees didn’t seem to be too fond of the unexpected restriction so I pivoted them out of the way.  I’ll put them back in place when the bees stop flying later this month.

I removed the screened bottom boards and replaced them with solid bottom boards.  All of the hives get a bit pissy when I work on the entrances.  I wonder what I’m doing wrong here.  I started putting the foam insulation on the brood boxes, but the bees were still agitated from my playing around with the entrances.  I’ll have to finish this task up later in the month as well.

So all the hives have strong populations, have lots of food, have been treated for varoa, and are set-up for winter feeding.  Must bee ready for Winter.

Busy Prep Day – Sept 8

I’ve had two tasks that I wanted to get done with the bees before winter sets in.  These were to lower my hive stand by about 10 inches and the other was to treat the main hives for mites with formic acid (formic pro).  Formic Pro should not be used it the temperatures are expected to get above 92 F. during the first three days of treatment.  This weekend was the first shot at that since August.  Shortening the hive stand involved moving all of the hives, sawing off most of the legs on the stand, then placing the hives back on (might as well do an inspection or two while everything is in motion. 

First, I set up a small pallet next to my hive stand.  The plan was to move the ‘Tardis” hive over a bit to free up some work space anyway.  Did an inspection from the bottom box up moving the hive from the hive stand to the pallet in the process.  The bees are filling every slot of the two deeps and a medium.  I’m very surprised at how many frames of wet larvae and capped brood there are in this hive.  It is bursting at the seams.  I looked carefully for swarm cells and didn’t see any, but this one may swarm late.  Found the (overly productive) queen and carefully caged her while working on the hive. I added two strips of Formic Pro between the bottom brood boxes and buttoned things up.  Set it up with an empty super on top with a 1 qt feeder.

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I’m going to hold feeding this hive until we see some ‘clustering’ weather.  It looks like they have used all the syrup I have given them thus far to raise bees instead of save for winter.  They have about a half dozen good resource frames, but that won’t last long with this many bees in the hive.

Next, I temporarily moved the ‘Misty” NUC from the stand to a spot next to the “Tardis” hive.  I only briefly peeked at the top box.  They only had four frame sides built out in the top box on my last inspection.  It looks like they may have expanded the wax to part of two more frame sides.

Next, I set a spare hive bottom on the ground and unstacked the “Bees Rules” hive in reverse order onto the new bottom (intending to do an inspection as they were restacked later).  One more bottom on the ground and attempted to unstack the “Utah” hive the same way.  I set down the bottom, took the top medium off of the hive and placed it on the bottom board.  When I tried to move the bottom brood box on top of the medium I was reminded that I had screwed the bottom of this box to the brood box!!  Well, the plan was to replace this woodenware anyway, so I just moved the bottom and the brood box (attached) to the top of the medium box. 

Whew!! The hive stand had been emptied.  I flipped it on its side and proceeded to shorten the legs with a skill saw.  Set back on its base bricks and leveled!  Now it was time to put things back together.

Because the bottom of the “Utah” hive was attached, I was short one bottom board that I needed to put things back together.  I placed the existing (screwed together) base and brood box on the side of the hive stand.  I then set an inner cover on the stand and placed the medium super on the inner cover.  This freed up the base that I had previously relocated the “Utah” hive to.  I put the base in its position on the hive stand and sat a newly painted and properly sized brood box on the stand.  I then proceeded to to an inspection on the “Utah” hive.  As I inspected (and photographed) each frame from the brood box, I moved the frame to the new brood box.  Six well built frames of comb and two poorly built partial frames.  I figure six is good for a small hive.  I then proceeded to inspect the medium and place it on top of the new brood chamber.  Six nicely built out frames in the medium, two untouched frames.  I guess this is a six over six NUC for the winter.

Lots of bees, lots of larvae and capped brood.  Percentage wise, this one had more resources than the “Tardis” hive, but it is still light for the winter in my beginner’s opinion.  Will need more feeding after the bees start to cluster a bit.  Added one of my combination feeder/quilt boxes to the top and then closed things up.

The last hive to reposition was the “Bees Rules” hive.  Two deeps and a medium.  The plan was to do an inspection and put Formic Pro between the two deeps.  When I took off the top the bees were boiling out of every opening they could find and they were not in their normally cooperative mood.  In fact, they were rather agitated.  I guess they took exception to being re-arranged twice in the same day.

Of course, as Murphy would have it, this was the perfect time for my smoker to run out of fuel.  I spent a few minutes puffing air at them before I realized that it had either gone out or was out of fuel.  By this time, the tops of all three boxes were completely covered in multiple layers of pissed off bees.  By the time I got the smoker reloaded and relit there was no smoking them back into their boxes.  One thing that I didn’t notice at the time was that a lot of them had exited from the front of the hive (on the ground) and were covering the ground in front of the hive.

I unstacked the boxes where I could find room for them and set the base up on its position on my newly lowered hive stand.  As I was getting set to inspect the bottom brood box I became aware of the fact that there were bees trying to staple my socks to my ankles!  I had walked through the area where the bees had gotten out on the ground from the front entrance.  Quick change of inspection plans.  I took a brief break to get out of my hood and jacket, went inside the house and took off my pants to shake the bees out of my pant legs. 

At this point I had decided that I should forgo the inspection and just put “Bees Rules” back together on the stand.  I suited back up and quickly put the first brood box on the base.  I applied the Formic Pro strips and then quickly stacked the second brood box on top of the first.  Next to add was the medium (with a beetle blaster and a swiffer pad). 

Mission accomplished.  I had lowered the hive stand and applied the formic acid.  Granted, I only got half of the inspections done that I would wanted to have done, but they weren’t the purpose of today’s effort.

Incidentally, I unintentionally reversed the brood boxes on “Bees Rules” and took at least a dozen stings on my ankles and lower legs.  I guess I have some problems with keeping my focus when there are bees climbing up my pant legs.  I’ll want to avoid that in the future:)